The San Francisco 49ers got themselves ahead of the game last week when the California-based franchise traded up to the No. 3 overall pick, in a deal that saw the Miami Dolphins claim first-round picks in 2022 and 2023, plus a third-round compensatory pick in next year's NFL Draft.
Since that bold move by San Francisco, Miami moved quickly to get themselves back into the top six in the draft: the Dolphins sent the No. 12 pick they got from the 49ers, plus a 2022 first-round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles in return for their No. 6 overall selection.
All this and the draft hasn't even gotten underway yet!
The 2021 NFL Draft is scheduled to take place from April 27 to May 1, and this is where most of the trade-action tends to take place.
As with every other draft in history, quarterbacks will be the most sought-after component in 2021, and there are several highly touted signal callers currently turning heads on Mock Draft boards around the world, as well as several franchise teams who, hands down, need a new signal-caller.
In short, expect plenty more moves come April 27!
Let's cast an eye over three in-draft scenarios that could shake up the top 10 picks at the 2021 NFL Draft:
(In no particular order)
NFL Draft 2021: New England Patriots trade up to No. 8 with the Carolina Panthers
Bridgewater had his issues: operating behind a reasonably efficient offensive line and with a trio of great receivers in Curtis Samuel, DJ Moore, and Robby Anderson, the former Saints QB managed a respectable 69.1% completion percentage but finished the year with 11 interceptions which sullied the 15 TD passes registered.
The low return on Airmail-TDs is likely why Matt Rhule opted to trade the now-former QB Sam Darnold yesterday, sending the Jets a 2021 sixth-round pick, plus second- and fourth-round picks in 2022, in return for the former USC star.
NFL Draft 2021: Sam Dornold joins Panthers from Jets
With Carolina seemingly no longer in the market for a QB in this year's draft, it opens up the playbook for Bill Belichick at the New England Patriots.
New England was the team that came out of free agency with the most upgraded-looking roster, but Belichick will know his team likely needs a new QB if they are to compete in the upper echelons of the AFC come autumn.
The Patriots, sending their first-round No. 15 overall pick, as well as a second-round pick in 2022, in return for the Panthers' No. 8 overall pick next month, could be enough to land Belichick, one of this year's top QB prospects; possibly Mac Jones (Alabama), Trey Lance (North Dakota State), or -- if he slips down the board -- Zach Wilson (BYU).
NFL Draft 2021: Eagles trade back up to No.7 with the Detroit Lions
In allowing the Dolphins to steal on their No. 6 overall pick, the Philadelphia Eagles have dropped down the board to No. 12.
Before that move, it had looked like Philadelphia might look to bring in another QB talent to compete with last season's rookie trailblazer, Jalen Hurts, who ousted Carson Wentz from his number one position on the QB depth chart by midseason.
Though some analysts (see above) do still foresee the Eagles trading back up to the No. 7 spot and landing a passer, for me at least, it's unlikely they do so now -- Hurts will wear the number one on his jersey next year, and it looks a dead certainty that he will be the unchallenged number one QB on the Eagles' roster, too.
That being said, it wouldn't come as too much of a surprise if the Eagles were to trade back into the top 10 to try and pick up one of the top weapons in this year's class for Hurts to throw the ball to.
Eagles fans bemoaned the lack of quality targets available to Hurts out on the turf last season, and trading back into the No.7 position to try to get a talent such as WR Devonta Freeman (Alabama) or TE Kyle Pitts (Florida) would go some way to placating the always vocal Eagles fanbase.
If the Eagles were to send picks No. 12, No. 70 to Detroit, there's a chance it would be accepted, which would mean Jalen Hurts could look forward to having a truly world-class receiving threat in the backfield come autumn.
NFL Draft 2021: Patriots trade up to No. 4 with the Atlanta Falcons
The Atlanta Falcons secondary struggled to contain teams last season, giving up big yardage through the air, especially on the outside where PFF ranked cornerbacks Kendall Sheffield, Isaiah Oliver, and A.J. Terrell 80th, 88th, and 89th in the NFL — respectively. Indeed, Atlanta’s corners allowed more +15-yard passing gains (50) than any other team in the league.
Pure speculation, of course, but the Patriots might view the QB position as a bigger need than CB, where they currently have arguably the best in the league -- the NFL's 2019 Defensive Player of the Year, Stephon Gilmore, plying his trade.
New England could send Stephon Gilmore, plus a 2022 second-round pick, to the Falcons in exchange for Atlanta's No. 4 overall pick in the 2021 Draft.
In doing so, Belichick would likely earn himself a clear run at one of Mac Jones, Zach Wilson, or Justin Fields, dependant solely on what the Jaguars (who will surely take Trevor Lawrence), Jets, and 49ers opt to do ahead of them.